Rachel Murray of Roxbury, CT has joined the regional farmland access group Land For Good to help tackle the state’s growing needs around farmland access, farm transfer, and land tenure. Land For Good (LFG) works to ensure the future of farming in New England by putting more farmers more securely on more land. Murray will work statewide by providing training and advising, help farm families and farmland seekers, and develop collaborative projects with local partner organizations.
Access to farmland is more important than ever in Connecticut, which has experienced a significant increase in farmers, and in the amount of land in farming, according to the most recent Census of Agriculture (USDA 2012). Connecticut leads all New England states with a 22% increase in the number of new farms established since 2007.
Murray has been involved in farming most of her life. Her first job at a small fruit and vegetable farm in Western Connecticut led her to pursue Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Connecticut. Her passion for farming has guided her through a variety of food systems work over the last ten years. Murray graduated from Green Mountain College (Poultney, VT) with a Masters in Sustainable Food Systems. With her diverse food systems work and personal experience as a land-seeking farmer, Murray is primed to help improve the agricultural landscape in Connecticut.
“Access to quality farmland in Connecticut continues to be an important topic and a critical obstacle for many beginning farmers,” says LFG Executive Director, Jim Habana Hafner. “There’s a strong working partnership of groups leading the charge to make land more available and affordable in Connecticut, and to provide education and services to farm seekers, existing farmers and landowners.”
LFG has been part of a CT Farmland Access Working Group that has been meeting regularly to coordinate around the issue. The ad hoc group is looking at ways to optimize the state’s farm link program, and hosted a Farmland Affordability forum last year to increase dialogue and introduce strategies from other states. LFG helps lead the discussion and provides support to farmers and service providers by participating in events hosted by groups like the New CT Farmers Alliance, Farm Bureau, American Farmland Trust, NOFA–CT, the state Department of Agriculture, UCONN Extension and others.
LFG’s field agents serve all New England states. They educate and consult with farm seekers, established farmers, landowners, and communities.